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Students compete in occupational skills
Job skills learned by Ceres area high school students were tested under pressure Wednesday during the 25th annual Occupational Olympics and Career Exposition hosted by the Stanislaus County Office of Education (SCOE).

Approximately 700 students from throughout Stanislaus County participated in 23 competitive events.

Samantha Williams, a Central Valley High School student, was the lone girl identifying parts of small engines in her competition. A few steps away, advisor Tony Traini commented that girls tend to excel in mechanics, commenting that "girls have good eye to hand coordination."

Modesto Junior College hosted the welding shop competition. CHS industrial technology instructor Wayne Weathers chimed in, saying some of his welders are the girls. He said a number of his students have also been taking college welding courses from Merced Community College in preparation of the competition.

The competition for architectural drafting was held at Ceres High School.

As Lisa Corona was busy with her Job Interview event, across the Stanislaus County Fairgrounds a number of Ceres and Hughson ag students were involved in the Agricultural Equipment competition. Students were challenged with identifying internal and external tractor parts, taken a written test on safety procedures, troubleshooting tractor problems and timed on driving, backing and hitching a tractor to an implement.

Fred Bigler, a counselor with SCOE, was on hand to stress that students need to develop social skills necessary to survive in the workplace.

"Eighty percent of kids from 18 to 25 lose their job," said Bigler. "They don't have the soft skills, they don't have social skills and they're goofing off."

While it would be obvious to the average adult, many teens have not caught onto the concept of showing up on time, being dependable and refraining from texting or phone calls while working, he said.

A total of 54 booths provided students with information about career opportunities. They included Yosemite National Park Service, the Navy, Pacific Southway Containers, Frito-Lay, Department of Corrections, E.&J. Gallo Winery, Laser Quest, American Red Cross, Memorial Hospital and Turlock Police. A number of colleges and trade schools had booths including DeHart Technical School, the Modesto Junior College's agricultural and dental assisting programs, Institute of Technology, Wyotech and Abram's College.

Hughson High School took the event's Small School Overall Award while Turlock High took the Large School Overall Award.

The top three finishers from local schools included:

• Katherine Morrett of Hughson High, who took second place in the Accounting I event;

• Joel Papish, Hughson High, third in in the Accounting I event;

• Ryan Garcia, Hughson High, gold medal in Agricultural Equipment Technology;

• Dylan Bishop, Hughson High, silver medal in Agricultural Equipment Technology;

• Lane Ichord, Hughson High, bronze medal in Agricultural Equipment Technology;

• Jesse Gutierrez, Ceres High School, gold medal in Architectural Drafting;

• Anthony Ross, Ceres High, silver medal in Architectural Drafting;

• Gabriel Sanchez, Ceres High, bronze medal in Architectural Drafting;

• Brittany Rickles, Hughson High, gold in Introduction to Business Applications;

• Yajahira Valdivia, Hughson High, silver in Introduction to Business Applications;

• Caitlin Adams, Hughson High, bronze in Introduction to Business Applications;

• Harmanpreet Bains, Ceres High, gold in Mechanical Drafting;

• Tyler Story, Ceres High, silver in Mechanical Drafting;

• Matthew Vanderlaan, Ceres High, bronze in Mechanical Drafting;

• Heather Taylor, Hughson High, silver in Job Seeking Skills.

• Joseph Perez, Central Valley High, third place in Small Engine Technology.